In my role as Staff Support Officer for one of the largest UK employers for over 15 years, I have offered help, support, and resources to countless individuals suffering from this debilitating and inhibiting condition. Anxiety takes many forms and occurs for a multitude of reasons, but in essence it is fear. I once heard of anxiety described as “fear spread thin” which I think is a particularly appropriate description of the feeling that it produces.
Anxiety can be “generalised” i.e. the individual lives daily with anxiety which they cannot attribute to any particular fear or situation. Anxiety can of course be brought on by work related, domestic stress or any situation that presses the right or wrong buttons for the individual. I have seen people paralysed with anxiety at the prospect of public speaking, or having suffered from bullying or harassment at work. There are so many reason why people suffer from anxiety, but the first thing to remember is that it is learned fear, and it can always be unlearned. Just think of babies who are naturally inquisitive, and totally fearless, until they learn to be fearful of certain things and situations.
This is a big subject, but lets get down to basics about what you can do to manage anxiety that is generalised, where there is no specific identifiable catylyst for the fear. Much of this will be lifestyle related changes:
a) In terms of diet look to reduce saturated fats, sugars (other than fresh fruit and natural sugar),cut out caffeine, cola, reduce processed food including bread as far as possible and reduce stimulants such as nicotine and alcohol. Many folks that indulge excessively in caffeine and cola have been mistaken for sufferers of anxiety disorder. I promise you that alcohol is a false friend in this situation, and although it pretends to help and makes you feel peaceful for a while, the after affects send your nervous system into overdrive!
b) Of course take regular exercise. Taking your dog for a brisk 30 minute walk is fine. Go steady, you do not need to exhaust yourself, brisk walking is fine and the endorphins will flow, you will relax and sleep better. Allow yourself a definite 8 hours in bed for adequate rest.
c) Reduce your commitments where you can and allow some time for yourself on things that you enjoy, particularly when they they distract and totally focus you away from your fear.
d) Generalised anxiety can be eased by a feeling greater control and organisation in your life. This may be achieved by simply as tidying the house, clearing out your wardrobe, checking on, and working out a budget for your finances. Planning your time realistically so that you have time and space for the things and people you value most.
e) Daft as it may sound, take time to count your blessings, and really take time to notice and appreciate the beauty that is in everything around you.
f) Notice and take note of when you are most at peace, an why that might be. Then do more of it- provided it’s legal – whatever it is!
g) Myself and many of my clients have found that relaxing music and imagery recordings have promoted better quality sleep, and increased confidence and serenity.
Anxiety related to a specific situation or events in your life many benefit from all of the the above and also the following:-
a) Notice and check your breathing. Short quick breathing encourages the fight of flight affect, and if neither fits the situation your anxiety will increase. A psychiatrist on a training course I attended recommended breathing in deeply for 7 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and then releasing slowly over 14 seconds- and it really works! This will do the opposite to fight or flight, and will trigger the relaxation response. I have used this when very nervous, perhaps ahead of a training delivery, and it has helped me start and get over my initial fear.
b) If you fear something then do it! There is no better way of permanently defeating a fear than meeting it head on. Plan your strategy, mentally see yourself succeeding, choose your time, exercise whatever elements of control you can, and then feel the fear and just do it. The fear will permanently lose all power over you. To see yourself succeeding mentally is imperative, because where the mind goes regularly, your body will be sure to follow.
c) Consider what element of control you may have over a situation. You will always feel better if you take action to address a situation when feasible. Perhaps you are anxious about things outside your control, and if so clearly there is nothing you can do to change things, except trust. By this I mean, consider trusting that everything is happening perfectly- as it is intended. That is, everything is happening as it should and everything will turn out OK. It is notable that of all the worries and fears that are presented to me by my customers and clients, most outcomes are considerably better than people expect. and all outcomes are manageable with support and love and care from those closest to them.
d) Communicate with those around you and those you love and care for. Its good to talk! Our relationships bring us the greatest joy in life, and those with good support networks cope better in difficult times and better in stressful situations.
It may not surprise you to learn that I have personal experience of the condition, and have investigated many methods of control. My extensive training and my experience of helping people with their problems has taught me that our conscious and subconscious minds are extremely powerful, and our attitudes and beliefs have a major affect upon how life manifests around us, and believing is the key to everything!
So determine and decide to appreciate all that is around you, count and enjoy your blessings, believe in only good things for your life, and watch them happen! My interest in natural health remedies, relationships and positive powerful living continues, and there if much more information and resources on my website.